KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A broad outline of how concealed weapons will be allowed on Kansas college campuses cleared a key panel Wednesday and edged closer to expected final approval, with individual campuses asked to come up with their own plans to implement the new law.
The Kansas Board of Regents’ governance committee signed off on the tweaked guidelines during a meeting in Topeka despite mounting claims by some campus groups across the state that concealed weapons could make colleges and universities less safe.
The full board of regents appears likely to sign off on the policy during its next scheduled meeting in January, said Breeze Richardson, a spokeswoman for the board.
In Kansas, gun owners can carry concealed weapons without a license.
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And public universities in Kansas must allow concealed weapons on campus beginning in July 2017 in buildings that don’t have security measures including metal detectors – an option broadly considered cost-prohibitive.
Opponents argue that classroom dialogue could be hindered because students may worry an armed student or educator who disagrees could react violently, or that a firearm could accidentally discharge.
Supporters argue that gun-free zones attract mass shootings.
According to the plan that advanced Wednesday, anyone at least 21 years old and eligible to carry a concealed handgun in the state may not be precluded from doing so on campuses, aside from buildings or areas where metal detectors or other security measures are in place.
Anyone carrying a concealed handgun on campus, under the regents’ guidelines, must either constantly have the weapon’s safety engaged or safely secure the firearm in university-provided storage or in the person’s residence or vehicle, secured and hidden from view.
“Nothing in this policy shall be interpreted to encourage individuals who lawfully possess a handgun to use it in defense of others,” the guidelines read.
The guidelines also call for each university to detail such things as how and where suspected violations should be reported, and where interested students, faculty and staff can get local or regional firearm safety instruction.
Violators of the policy may be ordered to immediately leave the campus with the weapon; ignoring that directive could be considered trespassing. The university may impose additional internal discipline, the guidelines read without elaborating.
Kansas is among eight states that allow carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures database.
Missouri and 18 other states ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, although two Republican lawmakers in Missouri recently proposed legislation to lift that state’s ban. Twenty-three other states leave the decision up to the individual college or university.